While we wait for our children, I am working as a nanny for a lovely little boy in Year 2. With some help from his Dad, he’s recently set up a website where he sells things he’s made. It’s linked to PayPal for easy online payments. He has a staff only section for the 3 workers who he pays £1 a month to design new products. Currently a bookmark costs 69p and, as he’s started receiving orders, so I asked him yesterday whether he’d factored in delivery costs, or was that charged separately? He hadn’t factored in delivery costs because he didn’t know what a stamp was.
How can a child build a website from scratch, but not know what a stamp is?!
Well, after a long conversation with the Tesco kiosk lady about the cost of stamps, he’s now reconsidering the price of a bookmark.
But it got me thinking. I am only 25, but my childhood was so different from this 7 year olds. At his age I had a pen pal who I posted letters to regularly. With my school friends I saved up my spare change and posted it to the RSPCA. We’d send postcards to family while we were on holiday. I’m not sure I knew what a website was, never mind how to make one. I’m still not sure!
We see so many statistics of children who are groomed by predators over the internet, or exposed to pornographic images before they’ve reached puberty. We shake our heads at parents pushing children round in prams who are glued to an iPad. It’s easy to think of the internet and technology as the root of all evil. We say children should enjoy childhood the same way we did – playing in the streets. (How on earth do we think that is safer?!)
Well until recently, I really believed technology to be the Destroyer of Childhood.
Yesterday, when I picked up my little website-building friend, I began to change my mind. For a long time I’ve struggled to get him to engage with Maths, he just doesn’t enjoy it. And why should he?! Yesterday he worked out how much profit he’d make if he sent his products first class, and how much second class. He worked out the individual cost of a stamp from the price of a book of 12. He estimated how many products he’d sell in a month, so how much he’d have to spend on stamps each year. He factored in the costs of staff.
He then tried to negotiate a better deal on stamps from his Dad. He reconsidered the features of his products to decide if he could sell them for more. He started designing flyers to advertise his business, and badges for his staff. He has an apprentice.
Maths, literacy, art and design, negotiation, persuasion, leadership, problem solving, hard work and discipline, the value of money. Suddenly learning came alive, and he was loving it! And suddenly I found myself wondering, not how can I slow him down, but how can I keep up?! He might never use a stamp, but when you know how to send an email, does it really matter?
He might never play Kerbie, or trap his friend in one of those massive commercial wheelie bins, but I think he’ll survive. Especially when he’s made his first million by age 21.
And so, as we get ready to welcome our children home, I’d love to know how you feel about your kids and technology. How do you keep them safe without holding them back? How do you keep up?! At a recent Therapeutic Parenting training day I heard about the benefits of playing video games in light of the Nurtured Heart approach. I’d love to know your experiences of this too! Please comment and join the conversation!